His Troubled Spirit vs 18-25 Jesus knew whom He had chosen or the ones He had chosen (v 18) and was therefore well aware that one of them was the betrayer (vs 18-19). He always knew this even from the day and hour He chose the twelve (John 6:70). Of course this raises the question as to why the Lord chose Judas to be numbered among the twelve if He knew that he was not for real. The Lord gives the answer here. It was so that the scripture would be fulfilled (v 18). The particular scripture was Psalm 41 v 9. What we could call a statement prophetic typology. Ahithophel, the betrayer of David (2 Sam 15:12, 31) was the forerunner of Judas the betrayer of the Lord Jesus. The Lord chose Judas, yes, but He never chose him to be the betrayer; that was Judas’ own choice. We must not confuse what is predictive in prophecy with what is prescriptive. God knew the course history would take and even planned that the wickedness of men would fulfil His will (Acts 2:23; 13:27). Yes the Lord knew who Judas was and what he would do, but divine omniscience did not mean divine compulsion in the heart of Judas. This very chapter makes it clear that the Devil put betrayal into the heart of Judas (v 2) and Satan entered him to accomplish the deadly deed (v 27).
Judas ate bread with the Lord even here at the last supper and yet he turned his back in treachery upon him lifting ‘his heel’ to hurt Him. What exactly that means is hard to say, but it does suggest turning the back and walking out contemptuously on someone. Yet the Lord emphasis that what He is telling His disciples beforehand should make them believe that He is the “I am” (v 19). That Christ is the divine Messiah, the Son sent from the Father and who is one with Him, is the foundational truth of His mission. Thus Christ assures His disciples that “He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me” (v 20). They had received Him and the testimony of the Father. Judas hadn’t. Also, He would send them forth as His apostles and whoever received their testimony received Him, but Judas would have no part in that ministry (Acts 1:15-26). And so, as Christ came in His Father’s name and authority, they would go forth in His. Judas’ betrayal would not change these sure realities and yet, they too would find that many, like Judas, would not accept their testimony.
The Lord was ‘troubled in spirit’ (v 21), His own spirit, by the evil He knew was there that evening and the deed it was about to accomplish. Three times in three consecutive passages we read the Lord was troubled. He was troubled at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:33). He was troubled in anticipation of the Cross (John 12:27) and here He was troubled because of the betrayer (John 13:21). The word indicates to stir up, to be moved or disturbed whether physically as in John 5 vs 4 & 7 or emotionally as in the scriptures just referenced. A family whom He loved in mourning troubled Him. The extent of His sympathy becomes evident in the poignant statement, ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35). What He witnessed grieved and distressed Him. His tears, the Jews said were tears of love for Lazarus (John 11:36). He grieved with the sisters. Yet, we must ask why this display of real emotion? After all He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. First of all the Lord shows us that it’s right and necessary to grieve. Knowing a loved one is in the glory prevents despair and gives comfort, but it doesn’t cancel the pain of bereavement. Secondly, the tears and distress of the Lord that day demonstrated He shared the pain of Mary and Martha and yet, His tears represented something far more than just sympathy for two special sisters. Today when we grieve what is it that assures us that Lord Jesus feels and cares for us? We don’t see His face and even if we could we’d discover that no tears moisten His cheeks in heaven. It was when here on earth that He took the opportunity to weep and tangibly express His care and sympathy, yes for Martha and Mary, but also for all of His people down through the ages when they too would stand at a grave to weep. In our grief we know the Lord Jesus cares and shares with us in our pain for He showed us that He does when He was here.
Also, the Lord was troubled in soul as He thought on the hour of His suffering. It so moved Him to say: “Father save Me from this hour” (John 12:27). The stirring of His heart and the weight of His burden further intensified in Gethsemane when He prayed “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matt 26:39). On that occasion before the upper room He immediately followed His words of pain with “but for this cause came I unto this hour: Father, glorify Thy name” (John 12:27-28) and in Gethsemane He said, “Not my will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What trouble and deep disturbance His holy soul experienced as He anticipated the cup that He must drink and the Cross of suffering which He must endure. The hymn reminds us:
For me it was in the garden, He prayed: “Not my will, but Thine”: He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat-drops of blood for mine.
In wonder angels beheld Him, And came from the world of light, To strengthen Him in the sorrows He bore for my soul that night.
He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own: He bore the burden on Calvary, And suffered and died alone. Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932)
The Dipped Sop vs 26-30 There in the intimacy of the upper room the imminence of His betrayal the nearness of His betrayer were a source of trouble to the Lord Jesus and yet after Judas had gone out into the darkness of the night the Lord turned from His focus on His betrayal to speak of His glorification (vs 31-32).
The sop (vs 26, 27, 30) or ‘piece of bread’ (NKJV), it seems, was given by the host, who was Jesus at the Passover supper, as an expression or mark of friendship and honour. On this occasion, Christ giving the sop to Judas was evidence that what Judas was about to do was Judas’ own doing and it poignantly highlights the treachery and cruelty of Judas’ actions against one whose love he could have known, but continued to refuse. Particularly, this action was a sign of exposure to Judas himself and the other disciples, though they didn’t seem to catch on despite the Lord having answered the beloved disciple’s question asked at Peter’s beckoning (vs 22-29). John, described here as ‘one of His disciples whom Jesus loved’ (v 23) forms a contrast with Judas. Judas had certainly managed over those years of ministry to conceal his true character from the others (John 6:70; 12:6). Now what he really thought of Christ had come to the surface and reached fruition under the power of the Devil’s influence. On the other hand the closeness of John to Jesus is evident by where he lay and how he is described. It is also worth noting that while all the other disciples were equally loved by the Lord, they all weren’t evidently as close to Him as John. That was certainly not because of favouritism on the Lord's part, rather it was because of devotion on John’s. This reminds us that we will be as close to the Lord as we want to be.
At any rate, despite what the Lord clearly stated to them and to Judas: “That thou doest, do quickly” (v 27), they assumed that Jesus sent Judas to get supplies for the festival ahead, ‘the Feast of Unleavened Bread ... which is called the Passover’ (Luke 22:1) or to ‘give something to the poor’ (v 29). All this reflects both how unaware as well as how dull they seemed to be that evening. The sop exposed Judas and showed him that the Lord knew exactly who he was and what he was about to do. It also was a catalyst for Satan to act under divine permission and timing. Waiting in the wings, so to speak, Satan seized the moment and his man. Judas tragically went out into the night. He crossed the final line that would lead ultimately to the outer darkness of eternal damnation.
Treachery is one of the wicked traits in the human breast. One famous and tragic story of treachery is the Massacre of Glencoe. The Jacobite rebellion in Ireland and Scotland during 1689-1692 proved to be the failed attempt by James II to take back the English throne from his daughter, Mary II and his son in law William III of England, or perhaps better known as William of Orange. Many of the Scottish clans being loyal to James were required to take an oath of allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary. It was in August 1691 that William offered an indemnity to the clans who would take the oath by January 1st 1692. They were warned of reprisals if they didn’t.
MacDonalds were one of the lawless clans who were slow to pledge any such allegiance and their chief Alasdair Ruadh MacIain MacDonald, 12th of Glencoe waited until December 31st 1691 to do so. He left Fort William on December 30th to take the Oath from the governor, Lieutenant Colonel John Hill, but since Hill was not authorised to accept it, he sent him to Inverary with a letter for the local magistrate, Sir Colin Campbell. This letter confirmed MacIain's arrival before the deadline and asked Sir Colin to administer the Oath which he did so on January 6th. Chief MacDonald returned home confident that he had done what was required of him and that there would be no reprisals against his people. However, the Secretary of State over Scotland and Lord Advocate, John Dalrymple, Master of Stair had other ideas. Dalrymple was a Lowlander who disliked the Highlanders and favoured union with England. Because Maclain was late taking the oath, Dalrymple ordered by the king’s signature for the sword against the MacDonalds.
The treachery of how it was done is shocking. Over 100 men of the Argyll regiment of Archibald Campbell, 10th earl of Argyll, arrived with their commander, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, whose niece was married to one of MacIain's sons and who carried orders for ‘free quarter’ among the MacDonalds as happened in those days. The soldiers stayed with the MacDonalds, who perceived no danger, for eleven days experiencing their hospitality. However, the order arrived by the hand of Captain Drummond on February 12th for the brutal execution of the MacDonalds. It began at 5am on February 13th, but contrary to the demand of the order, many of the clan escaped. The chief and 37 others, it seems, were killed.
This following song, composed by Jim Mclean in 1963 of Duart Music Publishers, Scotland tells the story:
Oh cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe And covers the grave o' Donald And cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe And murdered the house o' MacDonald
They came in the night when the men were asleep That band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep. Like murdering foxes, among helpless sheep They slaughtered the house o' MacDonald.
They came through the blizzard, we offered them heat A roof ower their heads, dry shoes for their feet. We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat And slept m the house O' MacDonald.
They came from Fort William with murder in mind The Campbell's had orders, King William had signed Put all to the sword, these words underlined And leave none alive called MacDonald.
Some died in their beds at the hands of the foe Some fled in the night, and were lost in the snow. Some lived to accuse him, that struck the first blow But gone was the house of MacDonald.
While Judas was in the upper room, evil was present and clearly, as it always is, a disturbance and hindrance even for the Lord. Judas had no part nor place in the presence of Christ and must be removed for the Lord to continue His ministry to His own. The presence of evil and satanic activity will always disturb the gathering of God’s people and hinder the presence and manifestation of Christ to His own. An evil imposter like Judas has no place within the company of the saints. Whether we think of spiritual evil, moral evil or doctrinal evil all such must be removed from among the saints. Paul teaches about how moral evil must be dealt with in 1 Corinthians 5 and what to do with offenders of doctrinal evil in 1 Timothy 1 vs 19-20. An Assembly of God must be pure and at peace. In the ‘upper room’ with Christ is holy ground.
The Anticipation of Glory vs 31-38
His Assurance – The Son of Man Glorified vs 31-32 Now that Judas had left and the ‘cloud’ of evil removed the Lord turns from speaking about His betrayal to speak of His glorification. The powers of darkness will act, men will do their worst and the suffering of the Cross will be dreadful, yet despite all this, the Son of man, by doing the will of God, will be glorified. The hour He anticipated (John 12:23, 27; 13:1) and the lifting up He foretold (John 3:14; 8:28-29) looked beyond the Cross. For the Lord Jesus His obedience would lead to the glory of the Father’s house.
What this must have meant for Him. He who shared eternal glory with His Father looked forward to sharing it again in His exalted manhood just as He prayed before the Cross:
'These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee: As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was' (John 17:1-5).
Another time in this gospel He refers to Himself by the title, Son of man (John 1:51; 3:13, 14; 5:27; 6:27, 53, 62; 8:28; 12:23; 34; 13:31). Frequent also in the synoptic gospels, this title, often read and spoken, is rarely explained. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning something of its meaning. It stresses that the Lord Jesus was truly man, and yet unique in His manhood for He was man not by natural generation, but by incarnation. Yet, incarnation did not make Him become the Son of man, rather by it He came to fulfil His appointed destiny as the Son of man. Moreover, as sonship indicates both relationship and character, the Lord Jesus as the Son of God fully possesses the nature and attributes of deity, so as Son of man He fully possesses the nature and attributes of humanity, sinless humanity. In Him two natures are united in one person. No one other than the Son of God could be the Son of man (Matt 26:63-64; John 5:26-27). He self-identified by this title in His earthly sojourn and humility as well as in His rejection and suffering (Matt 20:18, 28), yet it is His Messianic title that speaks of His universal dominion and absolute authority as revealed to Daniel (Dan 7:13-14) and confirmed by the Lord before Caiaphas (Matt 26:64). Daniel saw one like the Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days in all the glory and splendour of deity. Thus we sense the significance here and at John 12 v 23 of this title being associated with His glory. The Son of Man according to the prophetic word will indeed be glorified.
His glorification is a distinctive theme in John’s gospel (John 7:4; 11:4; 12:16 ...). Jesus says that He, the Son of man is glorified by God and God is glorified in Him (v 31). His obedience to the will of God glorified Him and because of His obedience God was honoured. That is why the Lord Jesus could say: “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). He qualifies His statement with “now”. The point is, in all that was about to transpire, the Cross, His resurrection and exaltation demonstrated what had always been true throughout the life of Jesus; the Father honoured Him and He the Father. The Cross and resurrection would bring this to full display and its ultimate outcome without delay as v 32 explains. So He prays finally before the Cross: “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee” (John 17:1).
It was the Son’s obedience that honoured the Father always and it was the anticipation of glory that led Him on to do His will. Hebrews 12 v 2 reads: ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’. It is by obedience to the word of God and the commands of Christ that we honour God and it is with the anticipation of glory that we are able to endure in the present. Let us remember what awaits us at the ‘other side of the veil’. The Lord Jesus prayed: “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). May we keep the anticipation of that glory before us. The hymn writer wrote:
The glory shines before me, I cannot linger here; Though clouds may darken o’er me, My Father’s house is near: If through this barren desert A little while I roam, The glory shines before me, I am not far from home.
The Lamb is there the glory! The Lamb is there the light! Affliction’s grasp but tore me From phantoms of the night: The voice of Jesus calls me, My race will soon be run; The glory shines before me, The prize will soon be won. Hannah K Burlingham (1842-1901)
His Departure – Going in a Little While vs 33-38 Not only had the time for glorification arrived, it also meant that His time with the disciples was now limited. The divine plan was moving forward.
The Limits of Time v 33 The Lord tells His disciples that His time remaining with them is short. Judas now having gone out things were actively moving toward the Cross according to the Father’s will. He had said to the Jews: “Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent me. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come” (John 7:33-34). Now He was saying the same to His own. In a short time He is going back to the Father, but this time He had a precious promise to share with His disciples about His ultimate return: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).
The Lord also spoke later about the ‘little while’ between His Cross and His resurrection (John 14:19; 16:16, 17, 18, 19). This time He was telling them that they would see Him again after His resurrection and before He ascended back to the Father.
Even our Lord lived His life according to time. He who is eternal in His person came to earth and in His humanity grew from infancy into manhood and moved steadily and forward toward the fulfilment of the eternal plan of God in the great work of redemption on a day and in an hour and at the place appointed by the Father. Truly the interface of eternity and time met in Christ. Still, as we follow His life He never rushed. He never was late or early. He fulfilled perfectly what He came to do, the Father’s will. He was always focused and never distracted even on His busiest day. The ‘little while’ (v 33) He remained with the disciples up to Gethsemane and beyond the resurrection was sufficient to prepare them for the times ahead. The life of Christ reminds us of what is hard to learn – the need to be focused on what is all important in our lives and that is doing the will of God. Most of us don’t seem to be able to cram enough into a day sometimes and we pursue many projects and get involved in many things, but in the end of it all doing the will of God and living the life that pleases Him is everything. God wants me to be what He intended me to be and He wants me to serve Him with the ‘talents’ He gave me in the place where He has put me. After all, the Lord Jesus lived in Nazareth for thirty years or so carrying on the noble trade of carpentry largely unknown to the outside world. Did He please God? The answer is obvious.
Only here in His ministry does the Lord address His disciples with this term of affection – “Little children” (v 33). John uses it seven times in his first letter. No doubt John recalled His Lord’s specific use of the term in the upper room and in his later life and ministry he reflects Christ likeness in his love and affection for those under his care. As Mr Vine points out: ‘It is a term of affection by a teacher to his disciples under circumstances requiring a tender appeal’ (Vines Complete Expository Dictionary).
The Bond of Discipleship – Love vs 34-35 The Lord was going ultimately back to heaven (v 33), but His disciples would be left on earth to continue testimony in His name. The essential element of their testimony and continuance as a community depended upon love and so He gives them a “new commandment”.
It was new in time and it was new in standard. Loving others was not a new commandment. Love under-girded the law as Jesus confirmed to the lawyer by quoting the two great commandments upon which He said “hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:34-40), but the dimensions of the love that Jesus called for were new. A new era was dawning, the Church age, and He demonstrated a new standard of enduring, unconditional and sacrificial love; “as I have loved you”. This was love that stooped to wash the feet of others and this was love that went to a Cross for others. This standard of love John explains in his epistle: ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’ (1 John 3:16).
Moreover, love after the manner of Christ would testify to whom the disciples belonged as well as bind them in the unity of brotherhood. “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one for another”. We are to ‘love as brethren’ (1 Pet 3:8) and we are to ‘let brotherly love continue’ (Heb 13:1). The fact that this is a commandment shows its necessity. The Lord repeats it again highlighting its importance at John 15 vs 12 & 17. Loving one another is absolutely necessary for without the bond of love relationships between believers won’t survive. Without love we couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate each other.
Also, love to fellow believers demonstrates that we are abiding or continuing in Christ’s love as the Lord told the disciples (John 15:9-10). John in his first epistles develops this truth writing stark words: ‘If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’ (1 John 4:20). Moreover, obeying this commandment is only possible in truth if we obey all Christ’s commandments. Again John writes: ‘Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him’ (1 John 2:5). The reason for so much division in Christianity and the evident lack of love even among ‘evangelical’ believers is the result of departure from the commands of Christ and the truth of God.
The Devotion of Ignorance – Peter vs 36-38 Peter latched on to the Lord’s words about His going away rather than His command for love. The disciples had not grasped that the Cross was looming and were in denial about the Lord’s departure. Still, Peter was sure he could and would follow Jesus even in death. The Lord tells Peter: “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later” (v 36 NASB). Here is an indication that Peter will eventually follow the Lord in death – (John 20:18; 2 Pet 1:13-15), but not now for Christ’s death was unique as the Lamb of God about to sacrifice Himself to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29); Peter would eventually follow as a martyr. No doubt Peter was sincere in his intention and really did think he was ready for such a call as dying for the sake of His lord. His devotion to Christ was real, but he didn’t anticipate the testing circumstances about to unfold nor did he understand just how weak he was in himself. The Lord’s response both challenges and warns Peter (v 38). He gives him a marker, one which Peter will never forget – the crowing of the cock (v 38). How the look of Christ and the sound of the rooster must have burned into his soul in his moment of failure (Luke 22:61-62). How often we’ve been like Peter; so sure, so confident in ourselves. Yet, what wondrous grace that allowed Peter to fall only to pick him up at the other side of his experience a much better man. The Lord Jesus put the circumstances in perspective: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).
Yes, often we are allowed to go through even circumstances of failure to help us learn and make us grow. There never is an excuse for failure and we ought to avoid and try not to let the Lord down, but we do learn from Peter’s experience that the wonder of grace is that Christ meets us when we need Him most and picks us off the floor when we’re down and are either afraid or ashamed as well as powerless to get up ourselves. To be clear, of course we are to live holy and blameless lives for the glory of God and the honour of Christ, but we must never forget our dependence upon grace! The Lord warned Peter, yes, but He also loved Peter and therefore after the resurrection restored Him and ordered Him to fulfil the ministry for which He called him (John 21:15-17).
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from the King James Version.